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Columnist
Sweet harmony at Wrigley
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/23/2007 3:00 AM

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On a day when the list of Cubs stars includes Sam Fuld -- Sam Fuld? -- hardly anything could be wrong in Wrigleyville.

Oh, maybe the two goofs outside on Clark Street could be considered a downer Saturday.

They held up signs derogatory to homosexuals, apparently to protest the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus singing the National Anthem.

A couple cops politely asked the dissenters to cease and desist. They did so with even less resistance than the Pirates offered the Cubs.

The Cubs' 9-5 victory was their ninth in 11 games, and life in general is good at Wrigley Field.

"If you can't get excited about this," manager Lou Piniella said, "you're not an excitable person."

That never was among the charges filed against Cubs fans. A .220 hitter in a 66-victory season has been known to titillate these folks.

Ah, but this year isn't last year, arousing hope that it's finally the fabled next year.

The Cubs suddenly are 9 games over .500 with eight days left in the season. That's good enough to lead the Brewers by 2½ games in the National League Central.

Entering Saturday's exercise against Pittsburgh, the Cubs' remaining opponents were a combined 56 games under .500. The Brewers' were a combined 12 games over.

Piniella has his pitchers lined up exactly how he wants them. He has Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hitting home runs the way they want to.

And he has Sam Fuld.

Baseball history is filled with minor-leaguers who made mighty contributions during September pennant races.

Sometimes it's the only 15 minutes of notoriety in the kid's career. Sometimes it's a prelude to 15 years of production.

Whichever it is for Fuld -- a 25-year-old who looks more like 15 -- he'll always have the catch he made in Saturday's seventh inning.

The way things are going for the Cubs, they could continue to win with an outfield of you, me and Paris Hilton.

Then in the late innings Piniella could throw Dennis Kucinich into right field as a late-inning defensive replacement, and he would crash into the wall to make a run-saving catch.

However tall Kucinich is, Fuld isn't much taller. But the Cubs' rookie stood skyscraper tall on this afternoon.

Fuld's "57" uniform number -- one customarily assigned to pitchers or afterthoughts -- was turned to the infield when he went full-body first into the bricks.

"It's pretty hard," Fuld said of the wall. "The ivy helps a little bit."

Not that much, but he was smiling anyway. How could he not be after holding on to the ball, gathering himself and throwing to first base to complete a double play?

The Cubs who were in the field waited in front of the dugout to congratulate them -- though thank him might be more precise -- and the ones already in the dugout waited to do the same.

"Between the crowd and all the guys in the dugout," Fuld said, "it was amazing."

As usually is the case when the Cubs are in contention to win something, Wrigley Field's fans are beginning to divvy up their darlings.

While the left-field bleacher creatures were chanting "Sor-e-AH-no!" on this day, their right-field counterparts were honoring Fuld with ovations.

The Cubs are rolling, so are the good times, and they aren't about to be dampened by a couple protesters.